Sparkling blue skies and crisp white clouds reigned during much of Regent University's 2008 commencement exercises, eclipsed only by the brilliant smiles and collective joy of the more than 5,000 exuberant graduates, family and friends gathered for the ceremony. Regent awarded bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees to 1,095 students, the largest number in the school's 30-year history, on Saturday, May 10.
Following warm welcome remarks from Regent Chancellor and President Dr. M. G. "Pat" Robertson and Thomas J. Knox Jr., chairman of Regent's board of trustees, graduates and guests heard inspiring words from the Honorable Bob McDonnell, Virginia Attorney General and Regent alumnus. McDonnell holds both a master's degree in public policy and a law degree from Regent University, awarded in 1989.
McDonnell focused his message on one theme as he told the graduates, "Your hopes and dreams for the future are connected to the content of your character." He elaborated on the theme by quoting from two of the nation's founding fathers, George Mason and George Washington.
Other highlights of the commencement ceremony included the awarding of two honorary doctorate degrees. Roberta Eldred, a member of Regent's board of trustees, received a Doctor of Humane Letters in Clinical Psychology. Eldred is co-founder and president of the Living Stones Foundation, a Christian public support organization which is actively involved in local, national and international ministries and organizations involved in evangelization, defending Christian family values, supporting women's issues and business as missions.
Prior to conferring degrees, Dr. Robertson issued a challenge to the 2008 graduates, and the challenge was simple: "Fear not." Dr. Robertson reminded the graduates that the future is not unknown, but rather is full of hope and promise. "Fear not. Move into the future with expectation and hope," he said. "God not only holds the future, He is the future."
Johnathan D. Legg, who was graduating from the School of Law, responded to this charge on behalf of the graduates and reflected on his experience at Regent. He spoke about a chapter from Os Guinness' book, The Call, titled "An Audience of One," in which Guinness discusses living life to please God, rather than people. "During our three years here, my wife Karen and I have seen the class of 2008 living their lives in service for the audience of one," Legg said.
Another highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of the Chancellor's Award to Dr. Amos Yong from the School of Divinity. After noting Yong's significant accomplishments in research and teaching, Dr. Randall Pannell, acting vice president of academic affairs, had this to say: "On the Regent campus, Dr. Yong is a bundle of energy for all things imaginative and scholarly."
Pannell also recognized outstanding graduates from each of Regent's eight schools, as well as recipients of joint degrees. The 2008 commencement ceremony also marked the first Latin honors for undergraduate students.